When the developer has the app or some portion of the app for you to try out, they will send the app program file in two parts. You will receive either an .app or .ipa file extension (i.e. fishingwitchita.app). You will receive a .mobileprovision file extension as well. For a test version (not downloaded from the Apps Store) to run on an Apple device, the .mobilerevision file is required, but it will not be part of the final released revision. For installing test versions you will need to connect the device to a Mac or a PC with iTunes installed.
If the app files are large the developer may compress the files and send a ‘zipped’ folder. Many email programs have a limit on how large an attachment can be. Compressing a file or files allows larger files to be sent by email attachment. Or perhaps the file is large enough to take a few moments to attach and download,
Files may be compressed for easy transmittal
so the developer prefers to compress them. Zipping files compresses them (makes them smaller) transmission. Once received, they are unzipped or restored to normal size. Most operating systems can unzip folders using standard compression techniques, but a few compression programs might require a quick download of a freeware utility program.
Save the files appropriately in a designated folder and select a place to store a backup copy. It is very convenient, as you will see in a moment, to save a copy on the PC desktop as well. Next, without your device attached, open iTunes on a PC or Mac and drag the .mobileprovision file to the iTunes Library on the left side of the screen. Then connect and sync the device. Now drag the .app or .ipa file to the Library, and then sync the device again.
The app should now be on your device and ready to go. Any device whose UDID is installed in the app code can be downloaded and tested in this way.
Drag the app files from the PC desktop to the Apps section of the iTunes Library
If you have some trouble with the process, retry the process a few times- making sure the files are in the library, are selected for syncing, that the device is syncing, and so on. Also, be sure to review the official Apple guides and instructions for these steps for your particular device.
NOTE: If it still doesn’t work or you get error messages, you need to explain the problem to the developer. If you are correctly following the procedure, there is a problem with the app build.
Once the app is on your device it should run like a normal app. Testing is mostly just checking all the functionalities of the app. Every possible user pathway/option should be explored and verified. Take careful notes about anything that doesn’t work or appear as it should, and include plenty of details. For anything that seems slow or incorrectly, keeps exercising this function until you are completely sure that it either works properly or you are certain of the problem and how to correct it.
To test the app thoroughly, test it repeatedly and under different circumstances. Sometimes, if there is an issue with database management or loop counting, a problem won’t appear during the first tests. These kinds of problems will only make themselves known after some time in use or after a number of evolutions through the process. Extensive, exhaustive testing is essential and that means testing all facets of the app over and over again.
The more people to try out the app the better and more complete the and testing will be. In other words, app testing can be outsourced to a large extent. The benefit of this is the fact that different people and different personality types tend to notice different things. So…the more feedback the better. Of course, there is probably a law of diminishing returns. For example, in the case of a simple app, fifty people testing the app may not come up with any additional significant notes than ten people testing the app would have come up with. So it is not worth the additional effort to bring forty more people into the process. But for a complicated app, more eyes and more brains may be needed for a comprehensive evaluation.
Who you select to test the app will depend on the purpose and goal of the app. If it is an app related to your work or business or for your boss, you definitely need to bring stakeholders into the test process (just as you included them in the design process).
If the app is geared toward a certain segment of the population (people who fish or people who enjoy fine dining) or a certain industry (like sales), you need people who are familiar with and have knowledge in these areas to be involved with testing.
Besides including testers familiar with the app purpose or function, you may want to recruit some techno-geeks to serve as testers as well. They may not know sales, but they know apps. They know how things should work and are familiar with common practices. These experienced app users can provide a lot of valuable input, even if they don’t know much about the app’s purpose.
You can find and recruit volunteer testers at various app bulletin boards or groups. Obviously, fishing bulletin boards if you are looking for people who fish, or a site like Linked-In if you are looking for business people. Offer them not only trial versions but a free completed app. For technophiles, there are device and app bulletin boards and social media sites, and sites geared to connecting developers and testers like ibetatest.com. Just search for them.
You can also recruit testing volunteers using social media like Facebook and Twitter. Freelance sites such as Elance and Odesk will also allow you to find third party testers. Like hiring a developer, look for testers with demonstrated experience and who can clearly communicate their qualifications as well as the benefit you will receive by hiring them to assist with testing.
To get the most benefit from the testers, be sure to provide the app specification documents so they can match the app performance to the documented requirements.
Be sure to start this process well ahead of the testing phase so you can have your testers lined up and their UDIDs to the developer by the time the app is ready for testing. Finding testers requires effort. You want to make sure they have the knowledge and the time to contribute to the project rather than being a detriment.
Unless your testers are experienced app evaluators, it might be helpful to create an app evaluation instruction sheet. It should list facets of the app to consider and evaluate as well as space for leaving suggestions and comments so that the specific issues resulting from the test are clear.
There are also app testing services you can hire. This is an especially good idea if the app is complex (such as a game) or its functions are critical (such as a sales app). When creating a fully professional app is important (i.e. it is for customers or promotes a business brand), searching for “app testing” online will assist you in finding plenty of professional providers to consider.
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